The Destiny universe is expansive, its lore almost mythical, often defying players' attempts to piece together its mysteries. Yet, even as players traverse the universe, battling forces beyond human comprehension, the real world occasionally goes on a collision course with the virtual in the most unexpected ways.
As part of the ongoing Season of the Deep, Destiny 2 unveiled a new cutscene that might as well have dropped a narrative bombshell. In a brief three-and-a-half-minute video, the curtain was drawn back on the origins of the Witness, a key figure, and the Veil, an enigmatic force woven into the fabric of Destiny's universe. However, the controversy wasn't so much in the reveal itself, but rather in how it was presented.
The plot twist unfurled through a specific image, whose uncanny resemblance to a piece of fan art created two years ago by Julian Faylona, professionally known as ELEMENTJ21, caused a storm on Twitter. Faylona pointed out the similarities as it soon sparked an outcry within the Destiny community.
For many, it felt like a slap in the face, especially considering Bungie's prior entanglements in accusations of plagiarism.
However, as per PC Gamer, when Faylona was contacted, the artist displayed a surprising level of excitement about the situation. Instead of voicing resentment, the artist was exhilarated that their work had found its way into the fabric of the game, even if by inadvertent means.
More importantly, responding to the uproar, Bungie has issued a statement attributing the mix-up to an "external vendor". As a part of their damage control, Bungie reached out to Faylona, acknowledging the incident and offering to credit and compensate the artist for their work.
This situation begs the question of accountability when game developers outsource production elements. The trailers and cutscenes require a specific set of skills that not all game developers possess, hence the need for outsourcing. But, it also opens the door for situations like these, where mistakes from a vendor can tarnish the reputation of the developer.
In this particular case, it seems like the vendor assumed the fan art was an official asset from Bungie, hence its use in the cutscene. While it is a testament to the quality of the fan art, it raises concerns about the checks and balances in place during the production process.
While the incident has marred the reception of a significant narrative development in Destiny 2's storyline, Bungie and its response has been lauded as an ideal way to handle such a situation. The company acknowledged the error, pledged to credit and compensate the artist, and maintained open lines of communication with the community.
Ultimately though, this event underscores the need for better checks and verification systems in the production process, especially when outsourcing is involved. Companies should be aware of the origin and rights associated with each asset they use, to prevent future blunders and protect the creators' rights.
As the Light and Darkness saga reaches its climax, players can only hope that future controversies will be left in the real world, as they plunge deeper into the mysteries of Destiny 2.